I recently spent two weeks on a mission trip in Vienna, Austria working with students who are studying in a theologian degree program with TCMI International Institute. These students come from mostly Eastern European countries to spend some much needed rest time in the Vienna Woods while attending classes towards their degree. We, as short-term workers, are there to take care of their everyday needs such as meals, housekeeping and maintenance of the campus so they may concentrate on their studies.
This year we had 57 students from 11 different countries. One of my greatest joys is to meet these students and learn about their family and their ministries. They are always willing to share traditions and especially food dishes from their native homeland. As I sat at meals with the students, I made a point to ask them which of their country’s traditional dishes they would like me to spotlight on my food blog. It’s a blessing to see their faces light up when they talk about their favorite dish and reminisce about a family member who makes the best one.
So, for the next 11 days I will be spotlighting each of these countries and a traditional dish in honor of these students and their love for their homeland. I encourage you to try some of these dishes and if you like them, do further research on that particular country’s cuisine. You may find a new favorite recipe or two for your family!
Khinkali is a Georgian dumpling, which originated in the Georgian mountain regions of Pshavi, Mtiuleti and Khevsureti. Varieties of khinkali spread from there across different parts of the Caucasus. The fillings of khinkali vary with the area. The original recipe, the so-called khevsuruli, consisted of only minced meat (lamb or beef and pork mixed), onions, chili pepper, salt, and cumin. However, the modern recipe used mostly especially in Georgian urban areas, the so-called kalakuri, uses herbs like parsley and cilantro (also called coriander). In Muslim-majority areas the use of beef and lamb is more prevalent. Mushrooms, potatoes, or cheese may be used in place of meat.
Have you ever seen the video floating around social media sites of the guy who can make hundreds of these dumplings in a matter of minutes? It is so amazing to watch! I’m always impressed with dumplings and the making of them. These khinkali sound delicious and I plan to make them just so I can practice making the “little purses”. I’m sure I won’t end up on any level close to the guy in the video but if I can get them to hold the ingredients and still look appealing, I’ll be happy.
- 1 3/4 pounds ground lamb
- salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 3 large onions, minced
- 1 bunch cilantro, minced
- 12 ounces ground beef
- 12 ounces ground pork
- 4 tablespoons cilantro, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
- 3 small yellow onions, minced
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup lukewarm salt water
- Knead together the filling you have chosen and about 7 tbsp lukewarm water.
- Prepare a smooth dough from the flour and the salted water. Roll it out thinly and cut out 6 inch circles using a plate.
- Place about 2 tbsp filling in center of round, and fold edges of dough over filling, creating pleats in dough as you go, until filling is covered.
- Holding dumpling in the palm of one hand, grasp top of dumpling where pleats meet and twist to seal pleats and form a knot at top of dumpling. Repeat with remaining dough rounds and filling.
- Put the khinkali in a large pan with boiling, lightly salted water and simmer gently, gently agitating them with a wooden spoon now and again.
- When the khinkali float to the surface, continue to simmer for about 6 more minutes. Total time should be about 8 minutes.
- Remove from the water with a wire skimmer, sprinkle black pepper over each and serve hot with cold beer.